What’s New: Formerly the Freestyle, the Taurus X makes its debut alongside the renamed Taurus sedan. Besides updated styling cues like the chrome grille, the X is available with six standard airbags, powered second-row seats, Sync, and a rear DVD system.
What We Think: There are larger, more attractive, and more capable crossovers on the market. But when it comes to family-friendly utility, the availability of all the commonly-desired features and a fully-loaded price thousands less than some of its competitors, the Taurus X makes a strong case.
Ford Taurus X – 2008 Review: X. There are few things more generic in their use. In the old days it was the signature of the illiterate. It’s the spot where we put our John Hancock (or X, as the case may be), the symbol widely representing “incorrect” or “no,” the symbol for a cartoon character’s black eye, and the name of a now-aging generation. Oh, sure, there are cases where X is more specific – think X marks the spot – but those instances are few and far between.
It’s with that mindset that we curiously ponder the 2008 Ford Taurus X. With its forgettable styling, the X’s predecessor, the Freestyle, already faced an uphill battle in terms of public recognition. Naming the successor after a sedan that lost its appeal decades ago was bad enough, but tacking on the X was like putting the car on dealer lots with four slashed tires. Maybe it’s just honest marketing to reflect the Taurus X’s bland appearance.
Thankfully, for this Ford’s sake, there’s true substance to draw in potential buyers who get past the name and ho-hum looks. Features are plentiful, like Ford/Microsoft’s Sync system that makes hands-free calling and iPod integration a snap, seating for up to seven passengers, a quiet and comfortable ride, a spacious and expandable cargo area, and a fully-loaded price that undercuts many competitors. Come to think of it, maybe the X signifies a checklist – of all the categories in which the Taurus X has been designed to satisfy its intended audience.
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Models and Pricing
Ford offers the 2008 Taurus X in three trims including the SEL, Eddie Bauer, and Limited, with base prices ranging from $27,030 to $30,750; all-wheel-drive tacks on $1,850. Every example features front-side and side-curtain airbags, three rows of seating, an MP3 audio input jack, as well as a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with cruise and audio controls. Of course, mainstream equipment, such as power windows and door locks, are included. Buyers looking for a bit more luxury would be well-served to consider the Eddie Bauer model, which adds standard two-tone leather upholstery, power front seats, a split third-row seat that replaces the SEL’s bench, automatic climate control, and power pedals. Need even more? Ask your dealer for a Taurus X Limited which provides heated seats, an Audiophile sound system, driver memory settings, and more.
We evaluated a Limited AWD version that carried an as-tested price of $39,505 including a $750 destination charge. If money wasn’t an object, this fully-loaded example would be the way to go, given that it featured a $995 rear DVD entertainment system for the kids, a $195 six-month Sirius satellite radio subscription, a handy $1,995 navigation system, a $960 power moonroof, and an $825 Limited Ultimate Package that added a power tailgate and power rear seats. Plus, Ford’s clever iPod and Bluetooth compatible Sync system is standard on Eddie Bauer and Limited models. But if saving more than $10,000 is too hard to resist, the SEL will get the job done with the same space, the same powertrain, and all the basics a growing family will require. Just remember to bring along the portable DVD players and MP3 players for the ride to Grandma’s.
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Under the Hood
At more than 4,000 pounds, the 2008 Taurus X is a heavy vehicle, and to move it Ford has packed this three-row crossover with a 3.5-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. Output is rated at 263 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 249 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm, which helps the former Freestyle offer a 2,000-pound towing capacity. EPA-rated fuel economy registers 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway for the standard front-wheel drive version, whereas tacking on optional all-wheel-drive drops the ratings to 15 mpg/22 mpg, respectively. With gas prices as high as they are, buyers of the Taurus X can take comfort in knowing that their family hauler requires regular 87-octane fuel and not the more expensive premium grade.
Also included in the Taurus X’s ranks are a MacPherson strut front suspension, an independent multi-link rear suspension, and a rack-and-pinion steering assembly. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard and backed by traction control and AdvanceTrac stability control. Depending on the trim chosen, buyers will roll off the lot with 17-inch alloy wheels and 215/65 tires or 18s wrapped in 225/60 Pirelli P6 rubber.
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Ford’s Taurus X has enough horses under its hood to be competitive, but the engine takes on an unrefined feel and sound at higher revs. There’s adequate grunt available to make general cruising worry-free and on-ramp merges safe and predictable, with the six-speed automatic transmission providing smooth gear changes behind the scenes to help it all get done. There’s no sport or manual mode; although a nice touch, that particular feature is admittedly not something the majority of Taurus X buyers would expect anyway.
Those buyers are likely more interested in fuel economy. The EPA numbers aren’t terribly impressive to begin with, but we were hoping for more than the 15.4 mpg we saw after a week of varied driving. Still, that’s better than what we’ve recorded in full-size SUVs, vehicles from which many Taurus X shoppers will certainly be trading out of.